I founded and run a project called advice to sink in slowly. The project involves asking Art and Design graduates to pass on "something you wish you had known earlier" in the form of a poster. The posters are given for free, as a welcoming gift, to first year students across the UK.

The idea was inspired by a friend, who told me how she often asked her Grandmother for advice and wisdom. I had never done so and immediately regretted it. Later I realized everyone has a piece of advice they wish they had known earlier, but they often don't have a chance to pass it on to where it can make a difference.

By passing on advice in a creative way, it is possible for each graduate to share something of themselves and at the same time, give their advice a chance to sink in slowly. If the student likes the poster they receive, it could find its way onto a wall and be there to help out later on. But most of all, it is the sincere and generous attempt that matters most.

After 9 years, I only recently answered the question and realized that my advice would be “Say hello." I found the social side of University quite difficult. I remember the relief of going into a lecture and knowing that I could look ahead and wouldn't have to engage with anyone for an hour or two. I needed a push to say hello, to say yes to opportunities, to share anything of myself and when I did, things almost always got better.

I mention it because knowing what advice I would share has changed how I look at the project. Now I see each poster, each attempt at the exchange, as being like a "Hello..." from a graduate to a new student, who wouldn't otherwise get to meet. And what was a smaller goal, of bringing a sense of wider community and belonging to students first days, has become very important.

So here are twelve advice to sink in slowly posters, which speak in the voice of the person who made them:

Suzy Phillips: Don't Hide Away

ARTIST COMMENT: "Arriving at University I was nervous about meeting new people and joining in with events and I spent a great deal of time alone in my room refusing invites and becoming more secluded and lonely. I realized that I needed to start making an effort and when I did I met some amazing people who I hope to be friends with for many more years."

Stephanie Ginger: Believe In The Marks That You Will Make

ARTIST COMMENT: "There is beauty in lines and marks that are imperfect and the happy mistakes that can happen when you are working. Believe in yourself, what you are putting down on paper and what you're putting your mind to."

David J. Plant: Let Go Of What You Think You Know

It took me a long time to realize that David J. Plant's poster is about bravery. I love the man's anxious hand, frozen half way between grasping and letting go, as the balloon rises, still just within reach.

Eleni Kalorkoti: Ignore Both Of Them

ARTIST COMMENT: "Even though it's almost impossible, ignoring the voices that tell you that you are useless and talentless or unrivalled and brilliant, is key to staying sane and making good work. Turn the volume down, work hard and see what happens."

Gray318: Chase Your Own Tale

I love how the tightly coiled inner circuitry of joy, ambition, love and desire is let loose on the world via Jon Gray's incredible lettering.

Jane LaurieBe Yourself

A familiar, broad strokes subject is made crystal clear by Jane Laurie, who is a master of ink and brush. 

Marion Deuchars: It's Better To Create Than Consume

ARTIST COMMENT: I think it's always good to create something, no matter how small, because the reward it gives lasts much longer than a 'consumer hit.'"

Owen DaveyIf In Doubt ... Make Tea

ARTIST COMMENT: "If you're struggling... go do something else for a bit. Making and drinking a cup of tea is just the ticket."

Rebecca Cobb: Don't Keep Your Worries To Yourself

I'm so proud that the project features such important advice, beautifully told.

SupermundaneMake Your Own World & Live In It

ARTIST COMMENT: "Finding the word Supermundane was a turning point in my career. I had lacked focus and would often find myself influenced by whatever styles where around at the time. Adopting Supermundane as a pseudonym meant I could approach work, (whatever it might be) and life in a Supermundane way. I had created my own world and I have lived in it ever since."

Thomas BarwickGet Lost

Thomas Barwick's beautifully detailed poster utilizes half tone, a spread of tiny sized dots of varying sizes that are used in newspaper printing. It is a poster about immersion, both in topic and in technique.

Neasden Control CentreIt's A Long Race ... Take Your Time

I feel the gentle passing of time in Stephen Smith's poster, his switching styles feel like the many layers of a well lived life.


John Stanbury has worked on self-initiated projects and exhibitions since graduating from Falmouth College of Arts in 2003. But his advice project has been the longest running and most ambitious. His hope is that one day, advice to sink in slowly could become a national project, which is part of student’s first day's care across the UK.

Like what you see here? Back John's Kickstarter project, Posters For First Year Students

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